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Margaret Kimberley: America on the Precipice

Americans are a people living on the precipice of economic disaster, both as individuals and as a group. The continued precariousness of their situation is a direct result of government connivance in stripping them of public assets and the distribution of those assets to the corporate sector. Retired public employees are literally having money they earned stolen from them. Children are losing days in public schools and counties are eliminating public transportation because political leaders are firmly committed to expanding empire abroad, assisting rapacious individuals and corporations at home and keeping workers and people of color in their place.

All of these examples of public theft mean that America's demise is real and becoming more and more obvious by the day. It is no longer a subject of conjecture among a small group of well informed people. When the state of Hawaii reduces the number of days students will attend public school and Utah proposes eliminating the 12th grade altogether, the destruction of our society is plain for all to see.

The American empire has reached its military apex, with troops stationed in more than 100 countries, and two wars of occupation which have lasted for more than eight years. The height of brute force brings with it the nadir of support for human needs. The two conditions go hand in hand. It is impossible to sustain military spending which exceeds that of every other country on earth combined, without also stealing from the public.

Camden, New Jersey proposes closing its three-branch public library system entirely. The $1 million needed to keep it operating every year is a proverbial drop in the bucket in comparison with the bail out of the financial services industry and the cost of foreign occupation and mass death. If public schools and libraries are no longer sacrosanct, if they can be eliminated without protest, then this country has at last shed any pretense of being a democratic, civilized society.

The stated reason for the elimination of these services is budget shortfalls. There is no disputing that states and local governments are suffering from the revenue losses created by the "great recession." What should be disputed is the only remedy offered: continued robbing of the have nots in order to benefit the haves. In Colorado, retired state employees have been told that cost of living increases will be cut in the future. These retirees are not covered by Social Security and are entirely dependent upon the agreement the state of Colorado has made with them over many years.


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